Vietnam has sentenced 18 individuals, including two South Koreans, to death for drug smuggling and trafficking, as reported by state media. Known for having stringent drug laws, the communist nation keeps its executions veiled in secrecy.
Kim Soon-sik, a 63-year-old former South Korean police officer, and his compatriot Kang Seon-hok, 30, received death sentences after a four-day trial in Ho Chi Minh City, as reported by state media on Saturday. The verdict also included death sentences for Chinese citizen Li Tian Guan, 58, and alleged Vietnamese ringleader Le Ho Vu, 36. Additionally, 14 others were handed death sentences in the case, following the trial in the Family and Juvenile Court under Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court.
The group illegally amassed, trafficked, and traded over 216kg of drugs between May and June 2020, according to reports. Although the type of drugs was not specified, authorities seized over 168kg of various substances.
Narcotics, sourced from Cambodia, were transported to Ho Chi Minh City, where some were domestically consumed, while others were destined for South Korea, as per Cong An Nhan Dan. On July 19, authorities intervened in the Ho Chi Minh City operation, discovering 39.5kg of methamphetamine in a container truck destined for South Korea during a customs clearance inspection. Lee Ho Vu was convicted of “illegally transporting drugs” and “using forged seals or documents,” while the other 17 individuals were found guilty of different drug-related offenses.
The timing for the executions remains undisclosed. Vietnam frequently imposes death sentences for drug-related convictions, making it a prominent global executor, as stated by Amnesty International. Last year, over 100 individuals received death sentences in Vietnam, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, an international monitoring NGO.